KENYA – The poultry sector in Kenya is currently grappling with a surge in egg prices, causing concern among consumers and traders as they decry high feed and transport costs.

The unexpected hike in the price of eggs, an essential source of affordable protein for Kenyans, is attributed to a combination of challenging economic conditions and soaring fuel costs.

A recent survey by The Star across Nairobi revealed that over the past month, egg prices have experienced an upward trajectory, with some outlets selling a single egg for 22 shillings.

In residential estates across the country, the cost of a single egg has escalated to 19 shillings, but Kenyans are now shelling out a hefty 20 shillings for each egg, or even 50 shillings for a bundle of three.

The price adjustments have been made by traders who are struggling to cope with the tough economic times and the steep rise in fuel prices.

At the bustling Koja Bus terminal in Nairobi, street vendors like Joel Ndung’u, who specialize in preparing boiled eggs spiced with kachumbari, have seen the price of their products surge.

Customers who once enjoyed this budget-friendly source of protein for as little as 10 shillings are now parting with 30 shillings for the same treat.

Ndung’u attributed the price hike to the surge in transportation and production costs, primarily due to the relentless rise in fuel prices.

 “Last month we used to buy eggs at a wholesale price of about 400 shillings, but now the same quantity costs 500 shillings,” he explained.

“This has considerably slowed down our business, and even wholesalers are not moving as much stock as before.”

As traders grapple with the current economic climate, they are yet to factor in the recent fuel price adjustment, which is expected to exert further pressure on egg prices.

Meanwhile, Kenya relies on imported eggs from neighbouring countries like Uganda and South Africa to stabilize egg prices, as local production remains relatively expensive.

However, persistent border trade disputes between Kenya and Uganda, especially concerning commodities like eggs and milk since 2020, have caused local egg prices to double from 380 shillings per tray in December to their current levels in October.

Despite Uganda’s assurances to Kenya of cheaper egg supplies in recent months, this has not materialized.

Presently, the retail price for a tray of eggs ranges between 550 and 600 shillings, depending on whether consumers purchase them from local shops or major supermarkets.

Earlier this year, the Kenyan government promised a reduction in egg prices through the importation of yellow maize, which was intended to provide affordable feed for poultry.

National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u approved the duty-free importation of 900,000 metric tonnes of white maize grain and 600,000 metric tonnes of milled rice, but these measures have done little to alleviate the situation.

Farmers are now struggling with increased production costs and have had to pass these costs on to consumers.

Zachary Munyambu, the coordinator of the Kiambu Farmers’ Cooperative Society, voiced the concerns of many farmers, stating that they must contend with rising transport costs, which are inevitably transferred to consumers.

Despite these challenges, the poultry sector remains a significant contributor to Kenya’s agricultural landscape.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2019 statistics, Kenya boasts an estimated 43.8 million chickens, contributing 5.1% of the total livestock value added.

Poultry meat production stands at 35,000 tonnes per year, while egg production is estimated at a staggering 1.6 billion pieces annually.